My name is Cory and I served in the Army for 10 years where I achieved the rank of E-6.  I was twice deployed to Afghanistan and I earned many commendations while serving, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.  It became quite clear to me that having a Service Dog would be an extraordinary asset to my family after I finally realized that limited mobility and combat injuries were permanent disabilities that would likely degrade over time. That realization was difficult when you spent a decade of your life jumping out of high performance aircraft and utilizing high explosives to deny the enemy freedom of maneuver on an ever-changing battlefield. Pride has a tendency to get in the way and last year I finally took the advice of my doctor and began looking for organizations in the Houston area that could help me train a service dog.

My wife and I found “Give Us Paws” and decided to apply for their free Veteran Service Dog training program. Other options just were not affordable and while there are great charities out there that do amazing work, the waiting list is months or in some cases… years long. With Give Us Paws, the waiting was minimal and I was very encouraged by their methods and expertise. We had just adopted a Dutch Shepherd rescue from a local charity and I wanted to know if she had the potential to be a service dog candidate. After submitting the required paperwork through Give Us Paws, we were scheduled for a baseline assessment with Paul Buescher. As a rescue dog with a troubled past and a new shot at life; Lexi did very well with her initial evaluation and our application was moved forward for funding and trainer assignment. The entire process took about 3-4 months, which, was incredibly quick in comparison to some of the waiting lists I had seen with other charities!

We began our training in August and our first session was with Paul and our newly assigned trainer, Nancy Kelly. Of course, I was not sure what to expect at first having owned dogs throughout my life and working with them occasionally in the US Army. I believe everyone has their own preconceptions on how dogs behave and what training methods will be the most successful. Especially considering that most charities attempt to solve a lifelong problem with a temporary fix… meaning, they attempt to pair a Service Dog with an inexperienced handler. What happens when it comes time for their Service Dog to retire? Well, the client in most cases is forced to continue searching for a suitable candidate and start all over. Give Us Paws focuses on training the trainer by developing their client’s knowledge base and skills when possible. This enables the client to plan for sustain a lifelong commitment to training and handling their own Service Dog.

I was very impressed with the breadth and depth of Mrs. Kelly’s experience. She does an amazing job ensuring that all my questions and concerns are addressed at every weekly appointment. I have taken a keen interest with dog training as a direct result of the training I have been graciously afforded with Give Us Paws. I have also been invited to attend numerous events and an instructor training session. I am confident that once Lexi is fully certified that I will be able to train a replacement for her when the time comes. The experience overall for me has been truly unique and humbling. After several months of hard work, Lexi and I are almost ready for the Public Access Test. Without the dedication and consideration that I have been given with Give Us Paws, I would likely still be just another name on a never-ending list waiting for help. I cannot thank them enough for this opportunity!